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Gifu: Sunomata Castle

Located at 1742-1 Sunomata, Ogaki City in Gifu Prefecture, Sunomata Castle is one of Japan's historical but reconstructed castles.

The original castle was built in 1567 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was during that time, a minor retainer of Oda Nobunaga. The castle was named Sunomata Ichiya-jo (Castle) or simply Ichiya-jo which literally means "one night castle". It got its name from the legend that it was built only in one night. 
The gourd or hyotan can be seen all around the castle as it is the symbol of the area

Sunomata Castle

One has to cross the Sai River or Naka River to get to the castle
Sunomata Castle as seen from the middle of the bridge

Hideyoshi built the castle to serve as his base and headquarters during the siege of Inabayama Castle (now Gifu Castle). Like what was written earlier, legend has it that Sunomata Castle was built in just one night. However, Hideyoshi actually used pre-constructed sections to put up the fortress which resulted to it being finished quickly which gave the people the impression that it was built in just one night but in reality, the castle took several days to complete. 
A closer view of the castle
We had a bit of a photo shoot before going in the castle
A statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Gourds are considered as the symbol of Hideyoshi... 
... that's why many hang it together with their wishes in Sunamata Castle grounds.

The original castle was made from wood. It has a wooden watchtower, palisades, and a dry moat. Its quick completion earns Toyotomi Hideyoshi prestige within his master's army. After capturing Inabayama Castle, Sunomata Castle's purpose was finally served hence it slowly deteriorated before finally being destroyed.
You have to pay 200 yen here before exploring inside the castle.

In 1991, a faux castle tower was reconstructed and served as a local history museum. Unlike the original wooden structure, the present structure is made of concrete and was modeled after the nearby Ogaki Castle. Like many of the present day Japanese castles, the top floor of the castle has a viewing deck where one can see the beautiful scenery surrounding the castle. Speaking of beautiful scenery, the castle vicinity is one of the best places to go to in Gifu Prefecture to view the cherry blossoms. Aside from that, the castle is also illuminated at night creating a spectacular scene which is also a must-see.

At present, Sunomata Castle houses several feudal era weapons and armors. It also has a miniature model display of what the original castle really looks like.

Displays inside the castle:
The first-floor shows the nature and history of Sunomata

A painting of how the castle vicinity once looked like
Some Noh theater masks
A statue of a samurai or maybe Toyotomi Hideyoshi 
Some historical information about the castle is also displayed on the wall
Some relics owned by well-known individuals from Ogaki.
There's also a video that talks about the Siege of Gifu Castle

More informative wall panels with the history of the city

A piece of a beautifully adorned textile 
A samurai armor can also be seen inside the castle
Feudal era weapons are also displayed
A diorama of Sunomata which was once a post town on the Mino Road between Atsuta in Nagoya and Tarui in Gifu.
The fifth-floor is the viewing deck which has a beautiful view of the neighborhood around the castle...
... and also the highway that passes on its side.

My family and I got to visit Sunomata Castle during our 18th day of stay in Japan. our visit was just a short side trip on our way home to Osaka after our four-day road trip of Gifu and Nagano Prefectures. We managed to explore the castle keep and the castle grounds in just an hour. I also got to buy some souvenir from the shop inside the castle. Just a bit of a note, visitors should pay 200 yen to enter the castle keep. It's free to explore the castle grounds though but there is little to be seen here except during spring season when the sakura is at full bloom.

Gotta love the view

Overall, given a chance, I'd love to go back to Sunomata Castle in spring. I'd love to see with my own eyes how the sakura blossoms transform the castle grounds into a romantic spot.

Getting there:
Ride the JR Tokaido Line going to Ogaki Station. From there, walk towards the south exit of JR Ogaki Station and ride a Meihan Kintetsu Bus to the Sunomata bus stop. From there the castle is 5 minutes walk away.

Overall rating


  1. That castle looks really interesting. Were there more than one?

    1. There are dozens of castles here in Japan. It seems like every city has one.

  2. This place is now in my "Thing to do" when I visit Japan!

  3. this looks simply amazing!! you always have a great time!

    1. I'm just thankful God has blessed us with our Japanese family.

  4. absolutely love the architecture!

  5. I remember reading somewhere that Oda Nobunaga ordered one of his general to do what ever he could in an attempt to finish the siege, I didn't know the castle was this beautiful :D and besides some historical attempt to immortalize the samurai in feudal japan :D

    1. Actually Toyotomi Hideyoshi was just a minor retainer by Nobunaga during this time but because of this castle he was immortalized and later on made a name for himself all around Japan.

  6. lovely sharing with the beautiful captures shared here, love this Japan castle, thanks for sharing this, wish to be there personally 1 day :D
    cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  7. Thank you for this quick tour of the castle. It looks imposing in photos. It probably looks grander in person.

    1. I agree with you Ivan. My camera didn't capture the real beauty of Sunomata Castle. Seeing it with your own eyes is the best way to experience it.

  8. Hi thank you for all the information.Your pictures are awesome. :) Happy blogging.

  9. WOW! Want to visit there someday! Sakit.info

  10. You have explained the location in detail. I liked the masks in showcase. Also pictures are fabulous.

  11. Omg this is a gorgeous place! And that giant gourd screams lucky charm :)

    1. =) Please do visit Sunomata Castle when you are in Japan Blair. =)

  12. What a stunning temple. I love the idea of hanging up wishes to bring to to fruition. Such a great place.
    Elizabeth O


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